Cape May’s cool breezes have attracted summertime vacationers since the 1700s. They arrived by horse-drawn carriage, but you can fly right in for airport dining and a fine aviation museum. Pristine beaches, beautiful Victorian “gingerbread” homes, wine tasting, good food, and fun boating make this a perfect warm-weather getaway.
Cape May County Airport lies near the southern tip of New Jersey, on a seven-nautical-mile-wide stretch of land separating the Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Arrivals from the north should note the Class B Philadelphia International and Class C Atlantic City airports. Unless you have completed the FAA's DC Special Flight Rules Area online course, arrivals from the east and south should take care to avoid the Washington, D.C., SFRA, that airspace up to FL 180 and within a 30-nm radius of the DCA VOR-DME. The Class D Dover Air Force Base lies 27 nm northwest of Cape May; use caution over Delaware Bay for inbound massive C–5 Galaxy or C–17 Globemaster III aircraft. VFR flight following or an IFR flight plan is highly recommended.
If you want to hit the beach with Fido, visit Higbee Beach. Sunset Beach has great sunsets, of course—and don’t miss the 7 p.m. flag ceremony. Sunset Beach hosts the Sunset Grill and is a good place to look for Cape May Diamonds, quartz pebbles that are sometimes cut and polished to resemble diamonds, then sold locally as souvenirs. Rising above Sunset Beach is the World War II Lookout Tower, built to watch for German submarines lurking off the coast. Today, you can go inside to view displays and climb to the top for panoramic Cape views. The Point is the quiet beach where locals go. All of Cape May's city beaches are especially clean, family-friendly, close to restrooms and food, and within walking distance from most accommodations. Beach tags are required all summer; pick yours up online, at City Hall, or at any city beach entrance, about $6 a day with a discount for multiple days. Read about all the beaches to pick the one that suits you.
To get out on the water, rent a kayak, surf kayak, or stand-up paddleboard to play on your own or with a tour. Whale-and-dolphin-watching boat cruises are both informative and fun—the boat speeds up for part of the trip, so bring a jacket for wind and ocean spray. You’re guaranteed to see marine mammals, plus the Cape May Lighthouse, the Coast Guard Training center, and more.
You can visit the lighthouse onshore, too, via the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC). MAC preserves Victorian homes and organizes area events as well as entertaining trolley and bus tours, wine trails, and food events, and tours and celebrations at the historic Emlen Physick Estate. Tour tickets can be purchased online or at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth in the center of the shopping district. You can also visit the Cape May Winery and Vineyard on your own, sample their wide selection on their lovely outdoor patio, take a winery tour, or join in for summer Grill Nights and Lobster Bakes.
With dozens of B&Bs, plus a plethora of family-friendly hotels and stately resorts, choosing a place to stay can be tough. Hotels along Beach Avenue are right across from the sand. The Hotel Macomber provides the added benefit of the onsite Union Park Dining Room, one of Cape May’s best restaurants. The Blue Pig Tavern and Ebbitt Room are likewise tucked inside hotels. The nautical-themed, pet-friendly Blue Fish Inn sits halfway between downtown and the beach, and you’ll get a free continental breakfast in summer, along with beach chairs and umbrellas. I grew up on Queen Victoria Road, so, I thought, why not stay at the Queen Victoria B&B? Check the photos to see if you agree I made the right choice. Remember Cape May for your cool summer getaway!
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